Thursday, August 05, 2010

Tea on the Lawn

By Jess Hodges

Last week I was in the village of Alfriston in East Sussex and felt in need of a cup of tea. The village in nestled in the chalk hills of the south downs and is as historic, picturesque and quintessentially English a place as you could find anywhere.

I visited the Badger's Tea House and had their 'sett tea' in the courtyard of a 500 year old building amid classic cottage garden flowers, ornaments fashioned from old cups and saucers and the buzz of cheerful conversation under the, frankly slightly alarming, gaze of an ornamental metal owl.

Enjoying a cup of tea outside is something the British weather so rarely permits but the experience was certainly one worth repeating. From now on, when the weather is good I'm certainly consider moving out to appreciate it and taking my ever present cup of tea with me. There is however a slight problem, seeing as I don't have a garden. How do I take my tea with me without ruining it utterly by putting it in a thermos flask?

I've had many flasks over the years, some of which didn't even leak and every single one of them has imparted, to anything other than the very strongest coffee, a pervading flavour of 'flask'. Anyone who's tasted it knows what I mean. It's the taste of metal, plastic, washing up liquid and whatever other drink may have passed through it. If anyone ever uses a flask for soup you can give up on it then and there, it is officially ruined for anything else for all eternity!

I've tried everything. Soaking them in bicarbonate of soda solution, soaking them in lemon juice, soaking them in tea! I've tried different makes and models, different brands and designs. No matter how thoroughly I clean them, the distinctive flavour remains. I don't always mind it, on a camping trip it's as familiar and nostalgic as it is inevitable, but it's hardly conducive to enjoying a spot of Lapsang Souchong in the park.

So if anyone knows how to rid myself of the flask flavoured menace please let me know asap, the British summertime doesn't hang around for long!